Later that morning, Suzu, Tatiana, Phoenix, and Jana went to the temple for the trial. Suzu stood before the gong and struck out a loud tone with the mallet. Now the whole community would know that they had begun…
Inside, the four gathered in the throne room. Phoenix had never been inside the temple before and he feared the worst; Jana simply scowled. Suzu raised a hand and began to speak, starting with Phoenix.
“Phoenix Bo, you were found to be having a secret relationship with Jana Cau. It has been decided that you are not alone in your fault but you should have known better. You chose to break the rules. I believe that Jana was more the instigator in this whole relationship. The suggestion of the community is that you should be sacrificed…” She paused to let Phoenix realize the severity of the situation. “However… I do not agree. You will be spared and will instead bear a mark on your face as punishment. You will also not be allowed to father any potential children to our clan.”
Phoenix visibly relaxed and bowed his head in acceptance, exhaling loudly. Next, Suzu turned to Jana.
“Jana, when I approached you for advice on several matters regarding the clan you told me you needed to consult ‘the spirits’. I let you have your time but you continued to make excuses when I asked again and again.” She eyed Jana with a look of suspicion. “Plus I know that there is something odd about you… You have secrets.”
Jana stuck up her nose defiantly and refused to respond.
“Fine then,” Suzu said coolly, “You are not a real Shaman. You are not of this place.” The others looked confused by this but Jana merely narrowed her eyes. Suzu didn’t need to say any more; she could easily tell the whole community that Jana was an alien but she chose not to. She never wanted anyone to be put to death and that is what would have happened to Jana if the truth came out. “You will be ban-”
“Wait!” Jana said loudly, interrupting her, “I have one more secret… I’m carrying Phoenix’s child.”
Suzu shut her eyes tight for a long moment. When she opened them again she was angry.
“You foolish woman!” She spat, “You are well aware of how these things happen! This was a deliberate choice!”
“I was planning to send you away with recommendations for you to join another clan but my conscience cannot send you away when you are expecting. Instead, you will be sentenced to solitary confinement during your pregnancy. We will decide what happens to you and your child when the time comes. Your body will also bear the mark of a traitor as customary in the community…”
Phoenix, although disgruntled about his sentencing, was thankful he was not to be sacrificed. However, his face markings would not be easy for others to ignore. He regretted ever getting involved with Jana and he now had to live with his choice…
Jana, on the other hand, had received the harsher punishment. Her tattoos went down her back, over her arms, across her neck, and all over her face. She would bear these markings as long as she stayed in this form. She would have to move on after her child was born.